Ukrainian woman living in Fareham who was imprisoned in Russia says Vladimir Putin will stop at nothing amid invasion fears

A UKRAINIAN woman living in Fareham who was imprisoned when she was working in Russia believes an invasion is inevitable, with ‘unpredictable’ Vladimir Putin stopping at nothing to achieve his ends.

By Steve Deeks
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 4:55 am

Hanna Greentree, who has lived in Fareham since 2017, said the Russian leader was ‘insane’ amid claims from the United States government the superpower has already started its invasion of Ukraine.

The 43-year-old has desperately been trying to remove her 65-year-old mum amid fears of an attack. British nationals living in the besieged country have already been told to leave.

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Hanna Greentree from Fareham wants to move her mum Iryna from Ukraine to the UK amid fears Russia will invade. L-R: Melania, Iryna, Hanna and Matthew.

Hanna’s mum Iryna Pavlova is ready to make a quick getaway but getting her to Britain could take weeks - with her having an interview with the British Embassy on March 14.

Iryna lives in Hanna’s home city of Kharkiv, which is just a 30 minute drive from the Russian border, and not far from the Russian military training camp of Kursk, which is one of three locations where Putin has reportedly massed troops recently.

Hanna said: ‘Hopefully we will be able to bring my mum over. We have made some progress and put a deposit down on a house that would give us more space for when she hopefully comes.

‘She has her interview with the embassy and then we will have to wait two or three weeks for a decision. Hopefully it will be positive.’

Describing the mood in her native country, Hanna said: ‘People are too scared to go out. My mum is staying at home most of the time and we talk every day.

‘I feel responsible to watch the news for information.

‘A few weeks ago we thought (an invasion) would never happen, we thought it was just political games. But now we think it is coming.

‘Putin is an insane person so we need to be prepared. I spoke to my friends there and everyone is asking, “what’s going on?”’

And tempers are even flaring online between people from the opposing countries.

‘I wrote a Facebook post and was upset when Russians started commenting saying “you took our land now we are going to take it back”,’ Hanna said, before adding with disbelief: ‘I didn’t steal their land.’

Hanna said during her time working as a journalist in Russia she was made to feel like a ‘second-class citizen’ during her ‘colourful’ time in the country.

On one occasion the mum was even locked-up for two days for failing to provide the quarterly paperwork that is required to be submitted by people from Ukraine.

‘They request we have to register every three months and make it very complicated. You have to stay at this place then queue for hours,’ Hanna said.

‘When I was working at the newspaper I forgot and they put me in prison for two days with a homeless man when I’m a woman. They were making fun of me and even joking about the man raping me.’

Hanna was finally freed when she paid a fine.

During her time there she regularly encountered hostility and had to be careful to reveal where she was from. ‘I had to change my accent or they would ask me to show my documents - especially the police,’ she said.

‘I thought something bad would happen to me and every day I was just trying to survive. I had to hide my routes. I was ashamed to say where I was born. It was terrible. I felt discriminated against.’

Hanna is grateful for the UK and its allies' support but fears the worst from Russia. ‘People in Ukraine are so tired and just want peace. Russia took our weapons and now we have nothing,’ she said.

‘Without the support of the UK, USA and Europe it is clear we would not survive by ourselves. I do not think civilian people are willing to fight.’

She added: ‘We have to try and be positive but Putin is unpredictable. He will keep doing it until we give up and become part of Russia.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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